West Virginia Lottery Not Backing Online Gaming Bill, Yet

Posted on January 18, 2019 - Last Updated on April 29, 2020

West Virginia Lottery officials announced last Friday that they would not be supporting the legalization of online gaming at this time.

Rep. Shawn Fluharty proposed a bill on the first day of the legislative session to legalize online interactive gaming such as casino games and poker.

The Lottery would oversee online casino regulations as it does already for WV legal sports gambling.

WV sports betting may be in the way

Despite not passing the bill this go around, there is plenty of reason for optimism moving forward.

Lottery Director John Myers told the House Finance Committee that he wants the West Virginia land-based casinos to establish their online sports betting apps prior to expanding online gaming.

“We certainly see the opportunity in iGaming,” Myers said. “We fully intend to come back with that at some point.”

Myers also noted that the retail sportsbooks at the casinos are having the impact he had hoped with higher attendance in general. Even though it’s clear that sports betting and online casino gaming can benefit from one another, it looks like WV residents might have to wait a bit longer.

WV legal sports gambling currently

At the moment, there are active retail sportsbooks at each of the state’s five casinos:

Additionally, there is one online sportsbook in WV available right now, Betlucky.com. Mardi Gras Casino and Wheeling Island use the app to power mobile sports betting to their customers.

It’s been reported that DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook will both release online platforms early in 2019. Others like William Hill are in talks as well.

It might seem like all of the casinos rolling out online sportsbooks could happen quickly, but that may not be the case. WV sports betting regulations state that each casino can have up to three co-branded online sportsbooks, leaving room for 13 additional sportsbooks in total.

WV Lottery still expanding online gambling

Although online casinos may have to wait, the Lottery is backing two bills to increase its revenue elsewhere.

Right now, residents are only able to purchase keno tickets from bars and clubs with licenses. One new bill will expand this to any Lottery retailer including convenience stores and even allow Lottery machine distributors to operate a retail location.

Legal sports wagering may have had a positive impact on the WV Lottery by enticing players from neighboring states to come to play in WV. The year-to-date Lottery profit is up $10.5 million through November.

Neighboring states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland pulled players away from West Virginia with their new casino openings. However, with legal sports wagering fully established in WV, it seems the Mountain State is now returning the favor.

It’s tough to tell exactly when WV online gaming will continue its expansion. It seems unlikely it will be too long. There is no denying the popularity and revenue potential of online casino games.

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Chris Imperiale

Chris Imperiale covers sports betting and the online casino industries. He has a journalism degree from Rutgers University and was formerly on staff at Bleacher Report.

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